He has coached some truly amazing boxing talents. He has led his boxers into the Olympics, world championships and many, many international events. But at that level and age, he can only do so much for the boxers — a little tweak here, a little tweak there.
With his new role with Boxing Canada, he will be able to focus on how to tap into talents at a young age and to make sure coaches are doing their jobs properly across Canada as Boxing Canada's Master Learning Facilitator/Evaluator.
“Boxing is my passion, it's not work for me. I know that with this I will be able to assist in medals for Canada. That is the drive for me,” said Apolloni.
Part of his job is to implement the national team program, but his main focus right now is getting the Boxing Canada technical manuals up to par. The manuals are there to show coaches what to look for, to educate them in their responsibilities and how to build a universal Canadian program.
Recently, the manuals were revamped as per request of Boxing Canada; it was either that or there would be no more funding.
The last time this was done was in 1978, so it was long overdue. In a rush they were put together. While they weren't bad, they weren't complete, and the result was athletes still were unprepared in international competitions, Apolloni said. Canada has not medalled at the Olympics in boxing since a silver in 1996.
“We just had a kick boxer that went to the world championships and she was overwhelmed as to what was happening at the European level,” he said.
The native of Copper Cliff with nearly 30 years of boxing coaching experience knew what had to be done.
“This was falling by the wayside and Boxing Canada needed someone to pick up the ball. Since I was involved with the revamping of the technical models, I knew exactly where they were going with it,” said Apolloni.
He recognizes what the coaches across Canada have to instil into their students to prepare them for challenges ahead.
“Typically here in North America we are very pro-oriented, which is the wrong thing for Olympic-style boxing. It is a totally different sport, amateur Olympic-style boxing and professional boxing,” said Apolloni. “Professional boxing is like a marathon, and Olympic-style boxing is like a sprint.”
The manuals he is putting together now are almost like a yearly scouting report, and they can just make subtle changes on the fly.
“We can now just make changes whenever it's needed. Whenever there is something new, or we see something that is outdated like some of the rules have changed, we can change it in our manuals. There is modern boxing technique, almost to the year.”
He is under contract for one year and he has some goals set out to get evaluators in each province. Then he has to teach them what to look for and how to evaluate. Then they will just roll with the punches, keeping an eye to make sure from the top down they have one mind set in terms of coaching boxing in the country.
Beyond the one year, Apolloni can see himself doing this for quite some time.
When asked if he was going to step away, and ease up his input on the national boxing team, Apolloni simply laughed and said, “never.”